Hotel’s Restoration One of Seven Projects Named by Preservation Action as “Preservation’s Best” for 2015
The St. Anthony, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio has been on the forefront of innovation in the hotel industry since it opened its doors in 1909, and more than 100 years later San Antonio’s first luxury hotel continues to make national headlines. One of seven historic preservation projects from around the country honored as “Preservation’s Best” of 2015, The St. Anthony was honored during National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week in Washington D.C. “Preservation’s Best” recognizes projects using the federal Historic Tax Credit that have not only re-established national historic icons, but also have revitalized the downtown community of cities and towns across America.
Sponsored by Preservation Action, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, the award was presented during a special Congressional reception on Capitol Hill. The award was accepted on the hotel’s behalf by Brandon Raney, Chief Executive Officer of BC Lynd Hospitality, LLC. BC Lynd, along with the local project architect firm Overland Partners, began the painstaking renovation of The St. Anthony in May 2013. The project received both the federal Historic Tax Credit as well as the Texas Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
The first major acquisition by a partnership formed by BC Lynd Hospitality with Sid Greehey and several other San Antonio-based investors, The St. Anthony has benefited from a San Antonio-based team dedicated to restoring its status as a premier destination for travelers and local residents alike. Committed to reviving the 107-year-old hotel, the hotel’s ownership has worked to restore not just its physical building, but The St. Anthony’s status as the premiere destination in the Alamo City—making it again the “Queen of San Antonio” as the hotel was once known.
“The St. Anthony is a unique property that’s woven into the fabric of San Antonio. We’re honored to have The St. Anthony’s restoration recognized as ‘Preservation’s Best’ and are proud to see what we think of as a ‘Texas Jewel Reborn’ once again being showcased on the national stage,” said Raney.
The Role of Historic Tax Credits in Renovation Projects
The federal Historic Tax Credit was created to drive economic development through the restoration and reuse of America’s historic buildings. A unique federal fund administered through the National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service in partnership with State Historic Preservation Offices, the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is the largest federal program specifically supporting historic preservation. Since its inception, the HTC has certified the rehabilitation of more than 41,000 historic sites around the country that give communities their special character. Encouraging private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings around the country, the HTC has been directly responsible for $78 billion in historic preservation activity.
Designed not only to preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings around the country, the federal Historic Tax Credit also promotes the economic revitalization of urban, downtown communities. The Preservation’s Best reception highlighted exemplary HTC projects that revitalized cities and small towns and breathed new life into local areas, like downtown San Antonio. Coupled with the development of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and the renovation of Travis Park, The St. Anthony’s renovation is credited with re-energizing San Antonio’s theater district and returning the area to the downtown destination it once was.
As a commercial property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The St. Anthony was eligible for a tax credit equal to 20 percent of the qualified renovation expenses of the renovation project. To receive the credit, the renovation project must meet criteria set forth by the National Park Service: at least 75 percent of the existing external walls must remain in place as either external or internal walls and at least 75 percent of the internal structural framework must remain in place. All of The St. Anthony’s external structure remained in place and while substantial upgrades were made internally, it met the internal structural framework requirement and was executed in conformance to the standards and requirements of the Federal program as defined by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The St. Anthony was also the first property in Texas to receive the Texas Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Passed by the State Legislature in 2013, the state credit is equal to 25 percent of eligible rehabilitation costs and is available for buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as well as Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks and Texas State Antiquities Landmarks.
Along with its monetary benefits which allow for projects that would otherwise not be possible to be economically feasible, the HTC also supports and promotes environmental sustainability. Recycling old buildings reduces landfill waste and saves energy by reusing existing materials rather than manufacturing new building components such as doors, windows, roofing and framing. The St. Anthony’s restoration followed that principal, repurposing glass doors at the main entrance on Travis Street, including historical elements to upgrade light fixtures in the lobby and more. Elements removed during the renovation which were not incorporated into the project have been stored in a warehouse for potential use in future projects.
A Texas Jewel Reborn: How The St. Anthony has Re-Emerged on the National Stage
The St. Anthony is a National Historic Landmark for good reason: it was the first hotel in the world to be fully air conditioned. It also was the first to feature an early version of the “electric eye door” that opened as a guest approached and a unique motor lobby that allowed guests to arrive and check in from their car, going straight to their rooms via a dedicated elevator to change before socializing in its exquisite lobby.
The redesign of the St. Anthony restores the National Historic Landmark’s famed glamour and opulence while blending its timeless historic features with contemporary luxury. With renovated and redesigned guestrooms, suites and public spaces, the restoration also updated the hotel’s infrastructure, meaning its plumbing, wiring systems and more were overhauled. Despite these substantial renovations, The St. Anthony maintains its original 1909 architecture in the main lobby. In fact, the renovation restored some of the hotel’s previous architecture and décor elements, unveiling parts of the hotel that had not been seen in more than 50 years.
After the hotel was originally built in 1909, the owners almost immediately started on an expansion. It was actually two separate buildings in the early years. In 1936, those were consolidated and a third tower was added, as well as two additional stories. It was expanded again in the 1940s with the addition of the Anacacho Room and has gone through numerous renovations since that time. Some of the efforts drastically changed the original designs and cut off spaces, limiting the flow of the building though. The changes made in the recent renovation process brought back The St. Anthony’s pragmatic flow, while continuing to retain and celebrate the hotel’s historic fabric.
Sitting in Victorian grandeur of Peacock Alley, you can see the Saltillo tile floors in the Loggia. During the renovation process, the original Venetian tile floors were also unearthed in The St. Anthony Club. Even some of the newly created elements like the St. A Sky Terrace feature classical Spanish Colonial Architecture that reflect the Hispanic influence present in San Antonio. Other beloved items like the 1927 Hamburg Steinway piano that returned to Peacock Alley, provided highly personalized and well-thought out touches to augment the historical accuracy of the renovations. The new design offers a modern touch that flows perfectly with the original architecture of the space. So in some cases, 200 year old antiques sit next to couches with clean, modern lines, adding to the unique charm found at The St. Anthony.
Members of Congress and advocates from across the nation, participating in National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week, were in attendance to recognize the recipients and celebrate “Preservation’s Best” of 2015 projects. Co-owner Brandon Raney attended the event to accept the award on behalf of The St. Anthony ownership team. Other projects from around the country that were honored during the reception included Cigar Factory (Charleston, SC), Cristo Rey Columbus High School (Columbus, OH), Chicago Motor Club – Hampton Inn (Chicago Il), Dillon House (Topeka, KS), Lafayette Lofts (Buffalo, NY), and El Barrio’s Artspace (Harlem, NY).
For more information on The St. Anthony, visit www.thestanthonyhotel.com